Peasants Struggles: Commemorated

The international farmers’ movement La Via Campesina calls all its members and allies to mobilise on April 17, the International Day of Peasant’s struggles.

(March 2017): This year, we want the world to know that peasants and other people working in rural areas have been working very hard for their rights. The rights of peasants initiative, which La Via Campesina started 17 years ago, is now at the final stages of a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, within the United Nations. Once approved  this declaration will create an international legal instrument to protect the rights of, and draw attention to, the threats and discrimination suffered by peasants and other people working in rural areas.

The need for such a UN Declaration of Rights has become more urgent in the 21st century. Peasants, those who produce the bulk of the world’s food, continue to face criminalisation, discrimination, displacements and persecution despite the existence of numerous international legal instruments for the recognition and protection of such rights.

Peasants’ basic rights are increasingly vulnerable as the economic and ecological crisis worsens. This situation is closely linked to human rights violations: expropriation of land, forced eviction, gender discrimination, the absence of right to land and lack of rural development, low income and lack access to means of production, insufficient social protection, and criminalisation of movements defending the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas.

For instance, in Africa, over 70% of the agricultural production and care-giving is done by women but there is little recognition of their rights in relation to asset ownership, access to credit, information and participation in policy making etc. In Brazil, despite many years of peasants struggling for comprehensive agrarian reform, fair redistribution of land remains unfulfilled. In Europe, the Common Agricultural Policy and market recent deregulation of the milk sector affect hundreds of thousands of family farmers. In Asia, as in rest of the world, free-trade agreements and bilateral treaties have destroyed local markets and continue to threaten local and traditional ways of farming and farmers’ exchange. Land concentration has increased as some farmers are forced to sell their land; youth participation in farming is at its lowest level ever.

We call upon the people around the world to celebrate the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle by continuing to work to reinforce food sovereignty; the fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity; to fight for a genuine agrarian reform and a better protection against land-grabbing; continue to conserve, use, and exchange our seeds; and strengthen the solidarity among ourselves. These combined struggles give us the strength to defend our land against corporate interests, persecution and violence against peasants and other people working in rural areas.

This year in July 2017 in the Basque Country (Northern Spain), La Via Campesina will hold its VIIth International Conference to deepen our analysis of the current crisis and work on strategic lines of action to strengthen our movement.

— International Conference on Agrarian Reform , April 2016 (Brazil).

We also call upon countries to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. We will mobilise our members and allies to pressure our governments to make the next negotiation in the 4th session of Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on rights of peasants and other people working in rural area at UN HR Council Geneva successful. We believe in championing the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, humanity also wins.